Artspace (New Haven, CT)

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      Photo of wire and paper sculptural object

Michael Donovan, Untitled, 2007, part of Artspace’s The Lasso Project. Photo courtesy of Gregory Vershbow.

Making connections and gaining visibility are two key factors for success in the visual arts. Artspace provides these opportunities annually through City-Wide Open Studios (CWOS), a month-long exhibition in Artspace’s main gallery, featuring one piece of artwork each by more than 500 artists. This non-juried program also finds vacant buildings for artists without their own studios to use. CWOS annually draws more than 10,000 people, providing artists the exposure needed to help propel their careers.

CWOS is just one of Artspace’s programs designed to help local visual artists develop their careers. Founded in 1987, Artspace uses its exhibition programs to provide artists with visibility, leadership training, income, and space. At their Center for Contemporary Art, New Haven’s largest independent visual arts venue, Artspace presents six cycles of exhibitions annually.

In FY 2007, Artspace received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $15,000 for a special exhibition, The Lasso Project: A New Haven Alumni Exhibition, to celebrate CWOS’s tenth anniversary. The Lasso Project was designed to highlight the achievements of New Haven artists. Nine artists who are current and former residents of New Haven participated, including Johanna Bresnick, Bonnie Collura, Michael Donovan, Frank Gardner, Baptiste Ibar, Marie Lorenz, Tavares Strachan, Siebran Versteeg, and Kitty Sweet Winslow.

Instead of having the exhibition in a traditional location, Artspace arranged for each artist to exhibit in vacant storefronts around New Haven’s Ninth Square, where the art could be viewed 24 hours a day. Artspace’s corresponding audio tour, featuring the artists talking about their work, was also accessible at any time, as participants used their cell phones to call phone numbers corresponding to the different pieces of artwork. The exhibition ran from October 12 through December 14, 2007, and was visited by more than 10,000 people.

Artspace discovered that by placing art in unconventional locations, they drew a new audience to their central gallery. In fact, the idea of placing work in privately owned public spaces turned out to be so popular that the landlords of the original spaces asked to be included in future programming and other regional organizations invited Artspace to develop and present similar exhibitions.

(From the NEA 2007 Annual Report)